Curriculum Requirements

The coursework accompanying our Master's and Ph.D degrees fulfill the curricular requirements of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board. In addition, these programs are accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International.

M.A. in Applied Behavioral Science

The ABAI accredited master's program trains highly competent scientist-practitioners in applied behavioral science. The program offers courses on the empirical and conceptual foundations of behavioral science and its research methods, but emphasizes coursework and supervised experience in behavioral assessment, analysis, intervention, and evaluation. Its mission is to advance empirically-based solutions to problems of societal importance.


The master’s degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours: 18 hours in 6 content areas (required courses), 3 hours in a practicum, and research and elective courses. See also: requirements for the online M.A. The six required courses are:

CourseKU Course CodeOnline Course Code
ABSC 735/770: Within-Subjects Research Methodology & Direct ObservationABSC 735ABSC 770
ABSC 746/771:Introduction to Applied Behavioral ScienceABSC 746ABSC 771
ABSC 799/854:Experimental Analysis of BehaviorABSC 799ABSC 854
ABSC 800/772: Conceptual Foundations of Behavioral ScienceABSC 800ABSC 772
ABSC 841/851:Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in Applied Behavioral ScienceABSC 841ABSC 851
ABSC 861/850:Principles of Behavior AnalysisABSC 861ABSC 850
Research Practicum Intervention Practicum Thesis HoursVaries 


Waiving Requirements

There are two scenarios in which students may waive requirements for the Master’s program. Please pay special attention to the disclaimers below regarding additional course work and oral comprehensive examination requirements. Please speak with the Director(s) of Graduate Study if you have questions. 

  1. First: If you entered the graduate program as a doctoral student and previously completed a Master’s degree from a ABAI Tier-1 Accredited Master’s Program, then all requirements of our Master’s program are automatically waived. You should contact the Director(s) of Graduate Study upon starting the program to ensure that written documentation of this waiver is added to your file/degree progress report. 
  2. Second:If you were admitted for the Master’s degree having taken graduate courses at another university, you are still required to complete all of the ABS coursework and other requirements for the Master’s degree outlined in Appendices A or B. However, you may request that your prior graduate courses count as fulfilling a portion of the ABS Master’s degree coursework as long as you earned a grade of A or B (B- is not good enough). For example, you are required to take a research methods course (ABSC 735; ABSC 772 equivalent class in the online program) for the ABS master’s degree, but may have already completed a comparable graduate course at another university. If this is the case, then you may petition to waive ABSC 735/772 by submitting a written request to the Director(s) of Graduate Study. Each request should be accompanied by (a) the course syllabus of the previously completed course (b) the syllabus from the course you are petitioning to waive, (c) documentation of the grade earned in it (e.g., copy of your transcript, which the ABS Graduate Academic Advisor has on file), and (d) a letter of support from your advisor. Here are some important rules you should consider before submitting your request: 
  • You may not request to waive a course with one you took 6 or more years earlier. 
  • You may waive up to 3 courses (9 hours). 
  • Students are required to earn from KU the credit hours required for the master’s degree: 18 hours of content courses plus 3 hrs (minimum) of practicum, 3 hrs (minimum) of thesis credits, and 6 hrs of elective coursework – a total of at least 30 credit hours for the MA. 
  • All waivers are approved at the discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee. 
  • You may not submit a petition if you are beyond your first year and you have not submitted an annual progress evaluation in the preceding academic year.  

Two important disclaimers related to waiving requirements: 

  1. Individual faculty advisors can determine if additional coursework is needed based on the student’s individual program of study. 
  2. Students remain responsible for the material taught in our graduate courses for the purposes of their oral comprehensive exams, regardless of courses/requirements waived. 


Master's Thesis

For your M.A. degree, you are required to propose, complete, write up, and orally defend an empirically based Master’s thesis. You may begin working on it as soon as you begin the program, but it should begin by the end of your first year. When your data are collected and analyzed, the thesis needs to be written and defended. You will have successfully completed your Master’s thesis when it is passed and signed by two of three members of your thesis committee (see below) and you have completed 30 credit hours numbered 700 and higher while classified as a graduate student.

Substituting a Master’s thesis

An empirical Master’s thesis that was defended orally in front of a committee at another university will be accepted at KU if (a) you successfully passed the oral defense, (b) your advisor reads the thesis and finds that it meets the standards of the ABS department, and (c) the Graduate Studies Committee votes with a simple majority to accept the recommendation of your advisor.